Jan 20, 2008

Back from Bolivia

by Liz Adair

My daughter Terry is just back from Bolivia. She went on a ten day assessing mission to see what needs are in the Santa Cruz-Montero area that her humanitarian charity SWAN (Serving Women Across Nations) can help out with. Terry served a mission there twenty years ago, and it’s interesting to me, as I see her returning, to remember how ill she was when she came home from her mission. We worried, because our local doctor had run all sorts of tests and concluded that there were no parasites that she had picked up, so we called church mission headquarters. They had us send her down to Salt Lake to a doctor who specialized in jungle diseases.

This good man spent a lot of time with Terry, and one of the conclusions he reached was that she was grieving. It physically hurt her to leave people she loved in such a tenuous existence and come back to the plenty of our very middle class existence here in the U.S.

It’s been interesting, as well, to watch this humanitarian effort evolve. It began as an extension of our family’s book, Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan. The intent was to use proceeds from the book to finance outreach, but most of the money actually comes from the family flipping burgers from a concession stand and from donations. Terry teamed up with OFDC (another shoestring humanitarian outreach where there are no salaries paid) to do micro credits in Kenya and Nepal. She has learned a lot about the ins and outs of this type of operation during these last few years.

Then, last fall, a friend of Terry’s from Bolivia contacted her. She has immigrated to the U. S. and works so she can send back money to Montero. Terry flew to Salt Lake see her, and when the friend heard about SWAN, she just knew that this was a program that needed to be set up for Bolivia.

Since then, there has been one minor miracle after another. Terry, never a shrinking violet, asked the church welfare department if there was a possibility they could teach classes to help the women understand how to utilize the microcredits. As it turns out, the church has a twelve-class program that they developed years ago that they have available for just this situation, and the first class will be taught to thirty women in Montero next month.

She was also able to interface with another organization that had already plowed the legal ground operate in the country. They gave her access to their lawyer, and thus SWAN was able to get over that hurdle without consuming money that otherwise could be used for microcredits.

As Terry visited with old friends, she could see that this is very timely. There is no bishop’s storehouse, no welfare services at all for the saints in Bolivia. Inflation is rampant. Rice has tripled in cost in the last six months. People who used to be financially comfortable now sometimes have trouble feeding their children. A $300 micro credit to buy a sewing machine, an oven for baking bread, or the means for some other cottage industry will help during this lean time.

So, as the family flips burgers at each Sedro Woolley celebration, we'll be thinking of those good people in Bolivia. What we make each holiday will fund several microcredits. Viva la hamburgesa!


  1. Liz,

    I've always been fascinated by the "microcredits" concept/programs around the world. How wonderful that your daughter, and your entire family, are participating in such a wonderful program to change lives!

  2. When we took our first-born to Lordsburg, NM to show her off, Uncle Rube, a jolly septagenerian, admired her even enough to please her proud parents. Smiling at Aunt Lizzie, who hobbled up to look amd coo, he said, "Mama, I don't mean to complain, but just see what other people are doing."

    That's how I felt reading about what your daughter and the rest of your family are doing for the disadvantaged in Bolivia. Wow¡ Many people dream of worthwhile projects, a smaller number make plans, but it's probably only the tiny top percentile of people who go ahead and carry through. Bravo. As I keep hearing, "Where there's a will, there must be a way."

    Thanks for the report and the inspiration. I could use a few more "mourning illnesses" if they'd eventually be as productive.

  3. Thank you for sharing your daughter's story. I am grateful there are those willing to leave home in behalf of the welfare of others, and that Terry was there to bring the programs of the church with her!

  4. Hey any way I can donate? An address to send a check to? Won't be much but well worth supporting.

  5. A former hometeacher of mine in Pinetop Arizona is an FBI agent. He has lived in Bolivia with his family several years and still has contacts down there. I think they would be interested in helping. Would it be okay to share information with them? I would need information on how to contact your daughter and so forth.

  6. Thanks for offers of help! Go to swanforhumanity.org and information is there on how to help. I don't know if she's got it updated for Bolivia, but all funds go directly to the people.

    To contact Terry directly, email her at swanfoundation@juno.com

    Or, write her at
    P O Box 1152
    Burlington, WA 98233

    I meant to write a philosophical posting on the power of the written word, but family intervened and I ended up throwing this together to get my post on. I'm glad it worked out this way.

  7. Wow, Liz, what a joy it must be to work with your family members in such an endeavor! I'm fascinated by your comments about Terry's illness as a result of her empathy for the people she came to love so dearly. The mind is so powerful...as are your words. Thanks for the "food for thought."


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